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Paynesville Press - August 15, 2001

Vying to become Princess Kay of the Milky Way

By Michael Jacobson

Steph's head being carved in butter Stephanie Hoeft's first memory of the state fair happened when she was two years old and saw a dairy princess getting her head sculpted in a 90-pound block of butter.

Steph was named runner-up in the contest and had her head carved in butter at the State Fair. Press, 8.29.01

She told her mother that someday she would get to do that, to which her mother kindly acquiesced. As Stephanie explains, "You don't tell a two-year-old she can't do that."

It turns out, they both were right. Whether Stephanie fulfills her dream and becomes the next Princess Kay of the Milky Way or not, sometime during the 13-day run of the Minnesota State Fair she will have her profile carved in butter.

Stephanie, 19, was named a Stearns County Dairy Princess last March and was chosen as one of the 12 finalists to become Princess Kay in May. The recent Paynesville Area High School graduate is the daughter of Jerry and Melody Hoeft.

She will head down to St. Paul on Monday to start the competition, and one of her first tasks will be to get fitted in winter clothing so she'll be able to stand the cold in the icebox when her butter statue is carved.

Steph Hoeft Tuesday will be a crucial day in the competition, as the 12 contestants spend the entire day with the judges, who will be examining their speaking ability, enthusiasm, knowledge of the dairy industry, and general character. Contestants who have already submitted written applications will also give a short speech and will have a solo interview with the three-judge panel. Hoeft stressed that the competition is not a beauty pageant.

Steph Hoeft will compete next week to become the new Princess Kay of the Milky Way. The coronation is on Wednesday, Aug. 22, just in time for the new princess to reign over the 13 days of the state fair.

On Tuesday night, Aug. 21, the contestants will be the guests in the backyard during the weather segment on KARE 11. The dairy princesses already went to KARE studios this summer to film public service announcements that will start running next week and continue throughout the coming year.

On Wednesday, the dairy princesses will practice for the show and have a private banquet with their family, friends, and other county princesses. "It's an honor to be one of the 12 competing to be Princess Kay, knowing over 400 girls were dairy princesses and 87 competed to be Mary Kay," said Stephanie.

"One odd thing is Stearns County is the largest dairy county in the state, but it's never had a Princess Kay of the Milky Way," she added.

Whether she wins or loses, Stephanie says she won't be disappointed. Her motivation for wanting to become Princess Kay comes from a desire to support the dairy industry by promoting its products and teaching people about it.

She already has had the opportunity to promote the industry through media interviews, parades, and school visits. Nothing beats seeing a young student make a connection between the milk he likes to drink and the cows he sees in the fields, she says.

Princess Kay of the Milky Way is required to preside over the state fair (participating in the daily parade, handing out ribbons, and being around the dairy building) for 13 days. Plus, the Midwest Dairy Association - which sponsors the program - arranges three or four promotional appearances a month for Princess Kay throughout the year.

Stephanie, who will start attending Bemidji State University only days after the state fair ends, would love the opportunity to promote dairy across the state. Win or lose, she will be able to promote dairy within the county as a Stearns County Dairy Princess.

Dairy princesses must be 18 to 24 years old and must live (or been raised) on a dairy farm.

The Hoeft family lives between Lake Henry and Regal and farms over 300 acres. They milk 52 cows per day and have 20 relief heifers. Stephanie said she'll miss the smell of freshly cut alfalfa the most when she heads off to college.

The last young woman from the Paynesville area to be among the 12 finalists for Princess Kay of the Milky Way was April Herem in 1993.

Bus Schedule
A bus will bring interested spectators to the Princess Kay coronation on Wednesday, Aug. 22, where Steph Hoeft of Paynesville will be competing. The coronation starts at 8:30 p.m. at the outdoor bandshell.

A spectator bus will leave Mayers Bus Shed in Melrose at 5 p.m., stop at St. Louis Catholic Church at 5:30 p.m., and at the Blue Heron in Cold Spring at 5:45 p.m. The bus costs $4 and includes pizza and, of course, milk. It should get home before midnight.

Call Keith and Pat Schaefer at 320-267-3857 or Gary and Corrine Lieser at 320-243-4324 for reservations.

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